EU FRA: Many older people in care homes fell victim to COVID-19
EU FRA: Many older people in care homes fell victim to COVID-19

Many older people in care homes fell victim to COVID-19. Many also faced months of isolation and restrictions often harsher than those enforced for other parts of the population. The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) looks at how the pandemic affected the rights of older people. It highlights the need for a rights-based approach as governments shape their exit strategies.

“Everyone has the same rights, no matter how old they are,” stressed FRA director, Michael O’Flaherty. “As we transition to the ‘new normal’, governments must pay special attention to the needs of older people and ensure they are treated equally. Only then, will older people be able to regain their lives in dignity and respect.”

“As we transition to the ‘new normal’, governments must pay special attention to the needs of older people and ensure they are treated equally. Only then, will older people be able to regain their lives in dignity and respect.”

Michael O’Flaherty

FRA’s third Coronavirus pandemic in the EU: fundamental rights implications looks at the measures EU Member States took to address the pandemic between 1 May – 31 May 2020. This edition focuses on the impact on older people.While governments aim to protect the most vulnerable in our societies, some COVID-19 measures raise concerns about the rights of older people:

Right to life – the death rate among older people was much higher than among other age groups – particularly in institutional settings, which serves to underline the vulnerability and need for close monitoring of older people in such settings.

Access to healthcare – as national healthcare systems came under pressure, doctors were forced to decide who to treat. In some EU countries, authorities or healthcare bodies issued guidance suggesting a patient’s age as a criterion for prioritising treatment.

Lack of testing – testing of care home residents and staff was lacking. By the end of May, testing was planned or underway only in a third of EU countries.

Stricter restrictions – many EU countries had stricter rules for older people than for the general population. At the same time, all countries introduced specific measures to help older people access services or use public transport.

Isolation – lack of social contacts took a toll on the physical and mental well-being of older people. Many local initiatives supported people in care homes.

Healthcare delays – many countries suspended non-urgent treatments, which affected many older people who have existing health conditions requiring treatment. EU countries need better data to understand how the pandemic affected older people to help them make evidence-based decisions for the future.

As our societies reopen, governments should take care of the needs of older people as the passage to the ‘new normal’ will likely be slower and more difficult for them.

The bulletin also looks at other fundamental rights implications of government measures to fight the pandemic:states of emergency;measures to contain the virus and mitigate its impact on social life, education, work, the justice system and travel to and within the EU;

the impact of the virus on other vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities, detainees, homeless people and victims of domestic violence.FRA will continue to monitor the situation and publish regular updates, drawing on evidence collected across all EU countries

CEPS and the EU FRA organize webinar on Racism during COVID19
CEPS and the EU FRA organize webinar on Racism during COVID19

The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on all aspects of European societies. The pandemic has not affected all population groups equally, as FRA’s regular bulletins on the fundamental rights implications of COVID-19 show. In particular, responses to COVID-19 have illustrated and exacerbated existing patterns of discrimination, prejudice and intolerance.

The rapid spread of massive protests and mobilisations internationally in response to the killing of George Perry Floyd during a police stop have underlined the urgent need to timely address institutionalised manifestations of racism and discrimination, also in the EU.

This Webinar, co-organised between CEPS and the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), will highlight and critically explore some of these patterns, and discuss the significance of responses to the pandemic for fundamental rights and what this implies for EU and national policy makers, with particular attention to the necessity to properly implement fundamental rights protections in the EU.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality, European Commission
MODERATOR: Sergio Carrera, Senior Research Fellow and Head of Justice and Home Affairs Unit, CEPS
DISCUSSANTS: Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, MEP, European Parliament Karen Taylor, Chair of Board of the European Network against Racism and Xenophobia, (ENAR) Dora Kostakopoulou, Member of the Scientific Committee FRA and Professor of European Law at the University of Warwick
EVENT DETAILS: Date: 03.07.2020, Friday Time: 13:00 – 14:30 (Brussels time, CET) The event will be hosted via Zoom. Open to all public. Once registered, the zoom link + password will be shared with you nearer to the event. Event page: HERE
EU Priorities for the 44th session of the Human Rights Council from an EU perspective
EU Priorities for the 44th session of the Human Rights Council from an EU perspective

From 30 June to 17 July 2019, the EU will participate actively in the 44th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC44) taking place in Geneva, underlining that the protection and promotion of human rights is and will remain at the core of the EU’s external action. “We have to put the protection of Human Rights front and centre in the fight against and recovery from Covid-19,” emphasises Ambassador Walter Stevens, Head of the EU Delegation to the UN in Geneva. “The fight against the pandemic should not be used as a pretext to limit democratic and civic space, the respect of the rule of law and of international commitments, nor to curtail freedoms or access to information. We will therefore continue to be a strong voice for the respect of human rights.”

At HRC44, the EU will take the lead on a resolution on Belarus, following up on last year’s resolution and drawing attention to the deterioration of the human rights situation in the run-up to the Presidential elections of 9 August. The Belarusian authorities have significantly increased their repressions of the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country, while formal restrictions remain in place. Belarus also continues to apply the death penalty, to which the European Union reiterated its unequivocal opposition. The EU-led resolution on the situation of human rights in Belarus aims to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for one more year.

“In the context of a pandemic where we have seen an increased spread of mis- and disinformation, and measures that have limited the fundamental right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press and access to information, it could not be more timely to support the resolution on Freedom of Expression at HRC44,” says EU Ambassador Stevens. We have to ensure that human rights defenders, journalists, media workers and civil society organisations can fully enjoy this right in a safe environment. The EU is therefore working closely with the pen-holders of the resolution and EU Member States to secure a substantial resolution on the Freedom of Expression with a focus on access to information, online and offline.

The EU remains committed to make genuine progress on the Business and Human Rights agenda inside and outside the EU in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We will therefore support and engage constructively in the upcoming resolutions related to Business and Human Rights, also to demonstrate our continued commitment to the implementation of the Guiding Principles.

Women’s rights and gender equality will feature very high on this Council session’s agenda. “The EU will use each and every occasion to reaffirm the full validity of our commitments to gender equality and will continue to promote the integration of a gender perspective throughout the work of the Human Rights Council,” underlines EU Ambassador Stevens. We will strongly engage in negotiations on gender-focused initiatives, including the resolutions on the elimination of discrimination against women and girls, elimination of female genital mutilation, as well as trafficking in persons, especially women and children.

During HRC44, we will continue to pay close attention to the human rights situation in Syria. To underscore our political and financial support to Syrians, the EU is virtually hosting the fourth Brussels Conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the region on the first day of HRC44, co-chaired with the UN. We will also continue to raise the human rights situation in China, including in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

The human rights situation in Eritrea also remains high on the Council’s agenda.To date, there is no evidence that Eritrea has made tangible progress on its human rights obligations. The EU strongly encourages progress on the Universal Periodic Review recommendations and cooperation with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Eritrea. Hence, the EU will continue to reiterate its concerns as regards the human rights situation in the country.

UN Human Rights Council adopts new resolution on Freedom of Religion
UN Human Rights Council adopts new resolution on Freedom of Religion

The resolution A/HRC/43/L.18 on Freedom of Religion or Belief has been Adopted at the 43th session of the Human Right Council the 19 June 2020

Action on Resolution on Freedom of Religion or Belief

In a resolution (A/HRC/43/L.18) on freedom of religion or belief, adopted without a vote, the Council expresses deep concern at emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief, and at instances of religious intolerance, discrimination, and violence, inter alia, the increasing number of acts of violence directed against individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities in various parts of the world, and the rise of religious extremism in various parts of the world that affects the rights of individuals, including persons belonging to religious minorities. The Council condemns all forms of violence, intolerance, and discrimination based on or in the name of religion or belief…; strongly encourages government representatives and leaders in all sectors of society and respective communities to speak out against acts of intolerance and violence based on religion or belief; urges States to step up their efforts to promote and protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief; and calls upon States to make use of the potential of education for the eradication of prejudices against and stereotypes of individuals on the basis of their religion or belief.

43/… Freedom of religion or belief

The Human Rights Council,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 36/55 of 25 November 1981, in which the  Assembly proclaimed the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief,

Recalling also article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,  article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant human rights provisions,

Recalling further Human Rights Council resolution 40/10 of 21 March 2019, and  other resolutions adopted by the Council, the General Assembly and the Commission on Human Rights on the freedom of religion or belief or the elimination of all forms of intolerance and of discrimination based on religion or belief,

Recalling Human Rights Council resolutions 5/1 and 5/2 of 18 June 2007,  Noting with appreciation the conclusions and recommendations of the expert workshops organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and contained in the Rabat Plan of Action on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial and religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence,
adopted in Rabat on 5 October 2012, reaffirming that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated.

The ECR announces its latest online debate “Transatlantic Trade”
The ECR announces its latest online debate “Transatlantic Trade”

The European Conservatives and Reformists Party will be holding Tuesday 30th June its latest online panel – Europe Debates: Transatlantic Trade.

According to the statement of the ECR “Transatlantic trade is currently worth hundreds of billions of Euro’s a year – with free trade agreements already negotiated between Canada and the European Union – the benefits of enhancing trade relations across the Atlantic are clear. The future of trade is increasingly with Latin America and the United States”.

ECR Party in partnership with Americans for Tax Reform, says the press release, will explore how expanding trade relations across the Atlantic will help with the post coronavirus recovery and ensure long term economic growth into the future.

The speakers invited to take the floor (or the mic) are: Eduardo Bolsonaro MP from Brazil, Grover Norquist – President of Americans for Tax Reform, Daniel Hannan – President of Initiative for Free Trade, Hermann Tertsch MEP from Spain, Matthias Karlsson MP from Sweden and Philip Thompson, International Trade Barrier Index.

EPP supports Paschal Donohoe for Eurogroup President
EPP supports Paschal Donohoe for Eurogroup President

EPP expresses its “full support for Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Finance of Ireland in his campaign to become the next Eurogroup President.   As one of the Eurogroup’s longest-serving members, and as an elected politician since 2007 from EPP member party Fine Gael, Minister Donohoe has the necessary experience to lead the Eurogroup at this time. He has committed to acting as a bridge builder between all Member States; North and South, East and West, small and large”.

According to the EPP “He also has a clear vision for an effective, inclusive and transparent Eurogroup which will drive economic growth and jobs. Being from a Programme country such as Ireland — which has experienced one of the EU’s fastest economic transformations and is now a net contributor to the EU budget— also means he deeply understands the challenges and concerns different countries are facing.

Over the past few months, COVID-19 has disrupted our economies as well as people’s lives”.

The EPP backs Paschal Donohoe for President of the Eurogroup. He will strive for a strong and inclusive European recovery.